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Madhubala – Bina Roy – Strange Coincidences!


1. Madhubala and Premnath first film together was Badal (1951). On the first day of the shooting, Madhubala entered makeup room of Premnath and quickly handed him a fully blossomed red rose and a note. Puzzled Premnath read the note which said that if you love me, please accept the rose, otherwise return it. Premnath was stunned. Without hesitation, Premnath accepted the rose and tucked it into the button hole of his coat and said to Madhubala Kubool hai, kubool hai (meaning I accept it, accept it). Later the same Premnath fell in love with Bina Rai at the sets of Aurat (1953) and married her.

2. Madhubala was cast in the title role of Anarkali in K.Asif’s Mughal-e-Azam when Nargis walked out of the film. At the same time Filmistan’s Anarkali was announced with Bina playing the title role of Anarkali. The film was released in 1953 and was a huge success while Mughal-e-Azam was delayed for another 7 years!

3. Mughal-e-Azam was released in 1960 and was a huge success.  But, the Filmfare Award for Best Actress went to Bina Roy for her role in Ghoonghat. A very unfair decision considering the fact that Madhubala was one of the nominees for Best Actress Award for her brilliant role in Mughal-e-Azam (1960).

4. Even though Madhubala is considered the most beautiful Hindi film heroine ever, actress Shyama revealed that she and most of her colleagues, in fact, considered Bina Rai to be the most beautiful heroine in Hindi filmdom in their time, ahead of Madhubala!

I wonder if Madhubala knew that she kept on loosing to Bina Roy in what we call strange coincidences…

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  1. This is basically for all those who think Madhu ji proposed to Premnathji. Guess many do…

    Don’t think it’s all that true because in an interview not very long ago, her sister Madhur Bhushan had said that Premnath ji had expressed an interest in Madhuji but she backed out saying her dad was very strict.So guess all the stories of her sending a rose to his make up room etc is most likely a figment of somebody’s imagination.After all, she was so beautiful, men would like her on their own and she didn’t need to really run after anyone. It’s been also said that much later all three-Bharat Bhushan, Pradeep Kumar, Kishore Kumar proposed to her but she accepted the third, which itself was sort of a bigger error of her life.
    And even if she had a crush on Premnathji who looked so dashing at that time, unlike much later on in life, what’s the big deal?She was only 17/18 at that time. People make mistakes in life and she was human after all, though she was a star.Even now teenagers falter,don’t they? She was a teen of the early 50s and was actually taking care of her family.

    There are some things which are easily pardonable in life and this could easily be one of the cases…But guess the bigger mistake was- being too obedient a daughter and not being able to stand up to her domineering father when it came to the most important factor of her life, later caused bigger heart aches for this beauty. Many feel that Dilip ji too needed to ease his ego. He was around 30-35 when they were seeing each other. Love is greater than ego any day.

    As for Bina Rai ji, she was good looking too, but I never had much information about her. I have known about Madhu Bala, her films and her beauty much more. I am from the new generation and have been learning about classic cinema only gradually. I knew about Bina Rai ji’s grand daughter Akanksha Malhotra who apparently looked much like her and couldn’t make it big some years ago, despite family support in B’wood. I have been checking Bina Rai’s videos on youtube and reading up on her, only now after checking your write -up here. For folks like us, Madhu Bala was/ is a bigger beauty and a star. Yes, she was unfortunate in love, life and it’s heart wrecking for her well wishers of the past and her current fans too who have pages etc dedicated to her. Like this one—-

    Can’t comment much on actress Shyama’s veiws, though I read on this site itself that she found Madhu Bala very beautiful…

    But this is what I saw in someone else article about what they thought about Madhu ji’s ethereal beauty—-

    “”””She was perceived as the ‘Venus of the Indian Screen’ (Baburao Patel’s appellation that stuck to her), but how was Madhubala viewed by those of her own generation in the film industry particularly the actress?
    ‘She was ecstatically, exasperatingly beautiful’, exclaimed Nadira in her characteristic style. ‘She created a kind of reverence, she had such an aura about her.’ Begum Para saw her sometimes in the mornings when she went out for a walk. ‘You saw Madhubala’s face and your day was made. She was a dream really ‘. Nirupa Roy recalled, ‘She was perfect, right down to her toe-nails. There never was and never will be anyone with her looks’.
    ‘Her complexion was so fair and translucent that when she ate a paan (betel leaf) you could almost see the red colour going down her throat’, recollects Minu Mumtaz. Nimmi confessed to passing a sleepless night after her first meeting with Madhubala on the sets of their common starrer Amar. How would she fare in the film alongside ‘this apparition, this angel in human shape?’

    The feeling of being struck dumb was a normal first-time reaction to Madhubala whether the hapless one was Shammi Kapoor or a casual visitor on her sets. For his first picture with Madhubala, P N Arora’s Rail Ka Dibba(1953), Shammi Kapoor, dialogue forgotten and his mind a blank, could only gaze tongue-tied and lost. His brother Shashi Kapoor regretted the fact that he never got to act with her:

    ‘She had a porcelain beauty, like Dresden china, very fragile, very delicate with a gorgeous infectious smile and very expressive eyes. There was a mystery about her.’ Producer-director Manmohan Desai remarked: ‘She was the only true beauty to grace the Indian screen and she was beautiful in every film with no exceptions.’ Well-known journalist B K Karanjia discovered on first meeting her that ‘none of her published photographs did full justice to her quite extraordinary beauty. He also wrote–“””I hadn’t met Madhubala (her real name was Mumtaz Begum) earlier, but I had seen several of her films and had been impressed by her attractive personality and her obvious budding talent. I wasn’t prepared for the woman I saw slowly descending a curved staircase from the upper floor. It was as if a vision of beauty had achieved form and presence, in a simple white sari and matching sandals, right in front of my eyes, without a touch of make-up. I was so struck that I forgot my manners and didn’t stand up when, before greeting everyone else, she stood before me, her manicured hands together in a namaste. I struggled to my feet, still feeling dazed, mumbled an apology for not standing up earlier and returned her namaste. With a dazzling smile, showing her pearly white teeth, she put her hands on my shoulders and pressed me down back into my seat. Then she went on to greet my wife and the other guests. My first thought was, “How could the camera have so signally failed to capture that quite extraordinary beauty?” I was to find my answer to that later. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Her deep brown hair loosened and fell around her shoulders; her complexion I can only describe with the cliché “peaches and cream”. Her eyes were luminous of a light brown, whose shade kept lightening or darkening according to her moods.But they were the most expressive features on her face. So was her voice, soft and low with a sexy huskiness to it. Then, suddenly, the answer came to me. Her films which I had seen were in black and white. Colour had not then come to Indian cinema. Only colour could do justice to the flush even now glowing on her cheeks. “”

    Filmfare, the premier film magazine of the time, wrote:
    Her complexion is moon-kissed and the smile an irresistible come-hither but stay-where-you-are smile. J H Thakker spoke from a photographer’s viewpoint: ‘You could photograph her from any angle without make-up and still come away with a masterpiece. She was a cameraman’s delight.'””””””

    Guess, because of some misfortune again, Madhu ji was over looked at the awards ceremonies. But her legend lives on. Let me give some examples from Hollywood’s golden age here. Even in Hollywood a gorgeous and great actor and the real pioneer of method acting before Brando,Montgomery Clift didn’t win an Oscar despite being nominated a couple of times.Vivien Leigh was considered so beautiful looking on screen that people sometimes disregarded her acting skills. Sometimes luck, good looks and talent don’t go hand in hand. It’s very, very sad but such is life sometimes and everything is in the Almighty’s hand.

    Lastly, since all this happened long ago and people around 60 years ago thought differently from us now, it’s difficult to be too sure of things.Journalists, fans, those interested can only do research. And most of the people involved are gone, so I guess it will be better if I too keep the comments subtle. Thanks for the other nice articles.

    • Long but very informative and interesting comment, Aanya. Like you, I too am fascinated by the vintage Indian cinema. My father (1940-2002) grew up in the 50’s and was an avid film buff, and I inherited a number of old magazines of that time. Following my father, I became a big fan of Dilip Kumar and Madhubala too. My father used to try to hide it, but I could sense that, like million others, he too had a crush on the screen-goddess, and was saddened by the way Madhubala’s life ended.

      You’re right. People like B K Karanjia, Sushila Rani Patel and others who were close to Madhubala talked about how men would fall for her, and that she was aware of it. These ‘sending rose’ episode could thus well be blown out of proportion.

      I’ve read most of the biographies and other sources of information available on Madhubala, and read about the court case and aftermath from different perspectives. And, I tend to agree with what Shammi Kapoor said, “Dilip Kumar would have been happier had he married Madhubala. He is not a happy man; his face does not reflect happiness. Personally I think, it is the one big mistake of his life, which he doesn’t want to admit. This was something which went beyond him and he couldn’t control the whole situation …” (From Akbar, Khatija, I Want to Live: The Story of Madhubala)

      But, still I couldn’t rationalise a few things; for example,

      Madhubala and her father struggled together from early 40’s and literally went from rags to riches. She must have been the apple of his eye; how could he be insensitive to her dear daughter’s wishes to marry Dilip Kumar? And, later how could the same ‘strict’ father allow her daughter to marry a struggling actor like Kishore Kumar who is also a divorcee and of a different religion?

      I read that Madhubala’s father misused her money in several failed projects. Her father planned to produce (and probably direct too) a film and wanted Dilip Kumar to act in it. Dilip Kumar declined this; understandably so because by then he was the top star and would not risk his reputation. However, by mid-50’s Madhubala too was more than 10 years in the industry and should have realised the credibility of her father’s directorial venture, and understood that Dilip Kumar had every right to refuse such a project. Wasn’t she ever in a position to talk to her father and make him understand this? Why was she adamant that Dilip should come to her home and apologise to her father sacrificing self-respect?

      Dilip Kumar’s elder sister went to Madhubala’s family with a marriage proposal, and her father refused. I find it hard to believe that Madhubala, who was a financially independent working woman, did not have the courage or any control over her father’s decision making which had direct connection to her personal life?

      Dilip Kumar insisted Madhubala on the set of Dhake Ki Malmal to go with him and marry him without family’s consent, but she refused presumably for her family responsibilities. But the same Madhubala contradicted herself saying in a 1955 Filmfare interview, “I’d marry only the man with whom I’m very much in love” (Filmfare, Nov., 2012). Why was she so confused and insecure?

      Finally, putting together different information, it seems to me that Dilip Kumar was “trapped” in the Naya Dour court case. To take revenge against Madhubala’s father, B R Chopra exploited Dilip Kumar’s anger against Madhubala’s father at the cost of their love affair. B R Chopra won on all counts as he used the case as a publicity stunt for the film, and Madhubala lost on all counts as she had a terrible heartbreak out of it. Again, why couldn’t she control and influence either of the men – her father and Dilip Kumar- before and during the case?

      Certainly, there are gaps in the tale that are yet to be unravelled. But, it seems that the most rational conclusions would be – Madhubala’s father was over-ambitious, arrogant and became so boastful that he had forgotten his ordinary past, and couldn’t keep his feet on the ground; Dilip Kumar was (at least at that point in time) self-contradictory who loved but couldn’t make it unconditional, and so stubborn that couldn’t practise the noble virtue of forgiveness. And, Madhubala, too obedient, insecure, impressionable, and so simple-minded that she couldn’t figure out when to break free and take control of her own life. Finally, there are lessons to be learnt for all of us from these real-life episodes.

  2. “This is what I saw in someone else’s article about what they thought about Madhu ji’s ethereal beauty.” Sorry abou the typo.Do check the excerpt from the article pasted…

  3. Bina Rai & Madhubala both are legends of their active years. But destiny itself takes away Madhubala from us at very young age. We ever salute Madhubala.

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